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On the Trail of Ichabod, The Adobe Headless Flash Player

Posted by Sravan | March 19, 2009 .

One fine day, Adobe got a feature request to create a headless flash player for running unit tests.

A fortnight earlier than that, around July 1st 2007, both Google and Adobe reported news about collaboration for Flash SEO and about improved SWF searchability. Google in particular answered an interesting question.

Q: How does Google “see” the contents of a Flash file?
We’ve developed an algorithm that explores Flash files in the same way that a person would, by clicking buttons, entering input, and so on. Our algorithm remembers all of the text that it encounters along the way, and that content is then available to be indexed. We can’t tell you all of the proprietary details, but we can tell you that the algorithm’s effectiveness was improved by utilizing Adobe’s new Searchable SWF library.

Around the same time, Doug McCune carried Adobe’s secret in this special search indexing Flash player. (Laugh Riot Warning)

Three months later came one of the earliest articles that explicitly mentions Ichabod that I could trace. TechPulse mentioned Adobe’s unveiling of Ichabod along with that of the HTML 5 video tag.

Another three months later, Duane Nickull posted that awesome video showing the advances in Flash SEO.

Apart from these few seemingly disconnected steps, the trail runs cold. I couldn’t trace anything about Ichabod. Any anonymous sources willing to croak?

Trivia: I haven’t read the story, but in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow the Headless Horseman chases Ichabod Crane according to Wikipedia. So why is the Headless Flash Player itself called Ichabod? Also, the Jewish connotations of the name Ichabod are darker.

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